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Magpie Jewellery's Blog

Natural Diamonds Versus Lab Grown Diamonds

Natural Diamonds Versus Lab Grown Diamonds

You may have heard the term 'lab grown diamond' being used in the jewellery world, and you may be surprised to learn that these modern gems are no chemically different from the natural diamonds you've always known. Diamond as a substance is simply crystallized carbon: a pure element in an atomic structure known as “diamond cubic”. The diamonds we know as gemstones can be formed in two unique ways, each of which produce minerals almost identical in composition and appearance. There are organic diamonds created by natural forces, and lab-grown diamonds made using modern laboratory techniques that replicate the environment in which natural diamonds are formed. Both minerals are crystal clear and equally reflective, however; there are subtle differences that can only be detected using advanced equipment. 


Natural diamonds were formed as long ago as three billion years ago, through extreme pressure and high temperature conditions. This organic mineral was brought to the earth’s surface due to volcanic activity, and has since become one of earth’s most precious materials. While diamonds are purely carbon for the most part, some natural diamonds contain traces of other elements and tiny pieces of unalike material that cause visible inclusions. These impurities are what set natural diamonds apart from their lab grown counterparts. 


Lab grown diamonds share the exact same chemical and physical properties as earth grown diamonds, and are grown using HPHT (high pressure high temperature) or CVD (chemical vapour deposition) systems. Whereas natural diamonds can take billions of years to form, lab created stones take about 6-10 weeks. 


When it comes to the decision to purchase an organic or lab grown diamond, you may consider a few factors. While organic diamonds have a romantic appeal that sets them apart, synthetic diamonds are less expensive and generally have a higher clarity and brighter colour, in addition to being much friendlier to the environment. You may be attracted to the character of natural diamonds because they are one of a kind, but it's worth considering their modern counterpart for all of their benefits. 

If you are interested in using a natural or lab grown diamond in your own piece of jewellery, inquire through our custom jewellery form. Continue reading

Alternative Diamonds & Gemstones for Engagement Rings

Alternative Diamonds & Gemstones for Engagement Rings

Classically, diamonds are the stone of choice for engagement rings. Their durability and shine make them ideal for long term wear, but that doesn’t make them the sole option when choosing engagement jewellery. There are many precious and semi-precious stones that boast hardness and beauty, making them suitable for engagement and increasingly popular. The best feature of these alternatives is their uniqueness and variety; a bride-to-be can have any colour, clarity or size they wish for. 

There are some factors to consider when choosing alternative stones. Moh’s scale of hardness is the tool we use to measure the durability of a stone, which ranges from 1-10. For reference, diamonds are a 10 on this scale and it is recommended to wear stones that are at least a 7 for long term wear. Each of the stones on this list are at least a 7, so they will be safe when showering, swimming, doing household chores or manual labor.

 There are also lab grown stones, which are physically identical to natural gemstones but are less expensive and more sustainable. These are great options for those who are looking for a more budget friendly engagement ring, which will still last forever and have the same shine and colour range as stones from the earth.

 

Moissanite

Moissanite is a stone that is commonly lab grown today. It is very physically similar to a diamond, however; it has a different molecular makeup and sits at a 9.5 on Moh’s scale. This makes it the second hardest mineral, just behind diamonds, and to the untrained eye they are just as sparkly and bright. Moissanites are the perfect alternative stone for anyone who likes the appearance of classic diamonds, but would like a more affordable option. 

Take a look at this rosetta-set moissanite ring, or this vintage style piece with a beautiful moissanite. 

 

Sapphire

Sapphires are commonly associated with a deep blue colour, like in Princess Diana’s engagement ring, however; many people don’t realize that sapphires naturally occur in many different shades. Peach, pink, yellow, pale blue, green, purple and even bright white like a diamond. Sapphires are 9 on Moh’s scale, making them perfectly durable for a ring to wear everyday. For the customer seeking a unique colour of stone, sapphires are the perfect choice. 

Take a peek at this deep blue sapphire engagement ring, this green sapphire set in gold, this brilliant white sapphire piece or our band made with a rainbow of sapphires

 

Morganite

Morganite is an increasingly popular stone for engagement rings, beloved for its soft pink colour that resembles a pink diamond. Morganite is a beryl stone, related to emeralds and reaching an 8 on Moh’s scale. Not only are they beautiful, they can stand the test of time. 

 

Salt and Pepper Diamonds

While these stones are indeed genuine diamonds and maintain that impressive 10 on Moh’s scale, they differ from classic diamonds because of their beautiful inclusions. Inclusions are imperfections that result from carbon spots, cloudiness, cracks or chips within a naturally occurring stone. Salt and pepper diamonds have unique black and white inclusions; these are the perfect stones for a bride who wants to stand out from the crowd and still have a lasting, precious stone. 

Check out our collection by Point No Point Studio, a jewellery designer that creates beautiful engagement rings with salt and pepper diamonds in every shade, shape, colour and size. 

 

Aquamarine

Aquamarine is known for its aquatic pale blue hue. Its name can be translated into "water of the sea", making it a great gemstone for the bride who prefers cool toned jewellery. Aquamarine is a semi-precious stone with beautiful clarity and a durability rating of 7.5-8 on Moh's scale. It is a beryl stone, in the same family as emeralds and morganites. 

Look at the unique engagement ring with a centre diamond accented by two sparkling aquamarine stones. 

 

Emerald

Emeralds are a classic choice for all kinds of jewellery, both vintage and modern. Although they are popular, not many people consider them for engagement rings despite their suitable properties. Emeralds have a rich green colour, and can be brilliantly cut to shine like a green diamond. They are 8 on Moh's scale of hardness, so an emerald engagement ring is extremely durable. 

Check out this engagement ring with a stunning oval emerald and two brilliant diamonds.

 

Ruby

Rubies are a rare, precious stone that have been valued highly for many years. Because of their deep red colour, many people associate rubies with love. This description is fitting for a bridal piece, and having a 9 on Moh's scale makes them even more perfect for a ring meant to be worn forever. 

Take a look at this hexagon ruby ring set in a beautiful 18k gold. 

 

An engagement ring can be made with any stone, and these are wonderful options that you may not have considered. Weather you decide to go the route of a diamond or something completely different, the choice is up to you.

If you are interested in creating a unique piece that's all yours, head to our custom jewellery page or stop by any of our stores for a consultation. 

 

 

 

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Jewellery Metals Guide Gold, Silver & Alternative Metals

Jewellery Metals Guide Gold, Silver & Alternative Metals

There are several unique metals used to create fine jewellery, each with their own properties and benefits. Some metals are more suitable for casual wear; some metals are recommended for longterm pieces, such as engagement rings and wedding bands. Understanding the different metal types will help you make an informed decision when purchasing jewellery for any occasion. 

Gold 

Gold is a popular choice for wedding and engagement jewellery, in addition to everyday pieces. It is a durable material that keeps its colour and shine. 

When choosing gold jewellery, you may consider different karats of gold. 10k, 14k and 18k gold are common in North America, whereas higher karats are often used overseas. Higher karats of gold have a greater pure gold content and are more expensive than lower karats. 

  • 10k gold has 41.7% purity (lowest value, most durable and scratch resistant)
  • 14k gold has 58.3% purity (average weight, scratch resistant)
  • 18k gold has 75% purity (slight heaviness, mid-range durability and scratch resistance)
  • 22k gold has 91.7% purity (slight softness, slight durability, less scratch resistance)
  • 24k gold has 99.9% purity (highest value, softest, low scratch resistance)

Gold is available in different shades, the most common being yellow, rose and white gold. The colour of gold is dependant on alloys used in the metal that result in cooler and warmer tones. White gold is often created with pure gold and white metals (such as nickel and palladium) while rose gold contains pure gold and red-toned metals (such as copper). 

Take a look at this 10k gold necklace, 14k white gold men's band and 18k gold diamond ring

 

Silver

Silver jewellery is usually Sterling Silver, which indicates 92.5% purity. Silver maintains its colour and ages well when taken care of and worn regularly. It has been used for centuries, and was at one point in history worth more than gold. Now, it is the most affordable precious metal. 

Check out this sterling silver necklace, these diamond studs and these stacking rings

Platinum

Platinum is more rare than solid gold, and will not tarnish or oxidize. This material comes at a higher price, but is extremely durable and maintains its lustre overtime. This metal is great for showcasing precious gemstones, and its bright white colour is perfect for those who prefer cool-toned jewellery. 

Platinum is required to have a 95% purity, and is hypoallergenic, which makes it the ideal material for jewellery-wearers who react to certain pieces. 

Here is a simple platinum wedding band with a 4 mm width. 

           

Palladium 

Palladium is a rare white metal that has a similar lustrous finish to platinum. Palladium wears extremely well over time, however; it is lighter and less dense than platinum, making it less expensive. Like platinum, palladium is 95% pure and hypoallergenic. 

Check out our custom jewellery design page if you are interested in creating palladium jewellery. 

Alternative Metals 

Alternative jewellery metals are more modern-looking and lightweight than traditional materials. They are very durable and scratch resistant; these metals have become especially popular for men’s jewellery and wedding bands. 

Some of the most popular alternative metals are stainless steel, titanium, cobalt, ceramic, tungsten and vitalium. These metals are all strong and sleek in appearance, however they are sometimes not possible to cut, size or alter due to their hardness. 

An alternative metal that is becoming increasingly popular, due to its benefits, is serinium, which is bright white and completely resistant to scratches and damage. Serinium is considered to be the safest of alternative metals, because rings can be cut and removed in emergencies, unlike its alternatives.



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